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Fall, 2012








In order to most effectively care for people in our ministries (whether that be in therapeutic, church, or missions context) from a developmental systems perspective, this course provides an overview of human development in the context of family and culture. We ask the question, ÒWhat is GodÕs intention for persons to develop into?Ó Major developmental theorists will be briefly covered in the context of how development is understood within a familial and cultural context. Theological anthropology, developmental theories, and contemporary research will provide a structure for understanding the development of persons from infancy to later life in the context of family life-cycle stages. Central issues of human functioning such as intelligence, social relations, personality, identity, spirituality, and morality will be discussed in order to provide a normative and foundational basis for understanding being human.  This course offers students the opportunity for integration at multiple levels: 1) theological reflection on human development, 2) psychological understanding of religious/spiritual development, and 3) personal integration of course content with studentÕs life experience.



1.     Provide students with a developmental perspective so that they might care, nurture, and educate more effectively in their ministries.

2.     Provide an integrative approach to human development.

3.     Explore issues specific to different issues of family life cycle stages.

4.     Provide an overview of major developmental theories.

5.     Expose students to current developmental research.

6.     Provide the opportunity for personal integration.



1.     Graduates in their scholarly and clinical work will be equipped to apply the insights of Christian theology along with the knowledge and techniques of the social and behavioral sciences.

2.     Graduates will be prepared to contribute to the development of knowledge as it relates to the interface of religious, spiritual and psychological functioning.

3.     Graduates will be aware of and critically engage ecclesial, societal, and global issues from Christian theological perspectives and demonstrate the ability to make informed choices toward positive change.

4.     Graduates will demonstrate the ability to identify critical issues of diversity and make appropriate responses.

5.     Graduates will be able to pursue careers consistent with their education.





This 4 unit course meets once weekly for lectures and discussions.  Video presentations and class discussion will facilitate course objectives.  Students are expected to complete assigned readings prior to class.  All assignments must be completed to pass the course and regular attendance is expected.



Balswick, J. O. & Balswick, J. (2008).  The family: A Christian perspective on the home. (3rd ed.).  Grand Rapids: Baker Books. ISBN-10: 0801032490, $24.99

Balswick, J. O., King, P. E., & Reimer K. S. (2005). The reciprocating self: Human development in theological perspective. Intervarsity Press. ISBN-10: 0830827935, $27.00

Berger, K. S. (2008). The developing person through the lifespan (7th ed.) or The developing person through the lifespan textbook. New York: Worth Publications. [1] ASIN: B002JVX7JY, $98.00



Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979).  The ecology of human development: Experiments by nature and design. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN-10: 0674224574, $30.50

Fowler, J. (1981).  Stages of faith: The psychology of human development and the quest for meaning. San Francisco: Harper. ISBN-10: 0060628669, $16.00

Grenz, Stanley (2001).  The social God and the relational self: A Trinitarian theology of the Imago Dei. Louisville: Westminster Press. ISBN-10: 066422203X

Lansford, J. E., Deater-Deckard, K. & Bornstein, M. H. (2007). Immigrant families in contemporary society. New York: Guilford Press. ISBN-10: 1606232479, $35.00

Loder, J. (18).  The logic of the spirit: Human development in theological perspective. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. ISBN-10: 078790919X, $39.95

McLoyd, V. C., Hill, N. E., & Dodge, K. A. (2005). African American family life: Ecological and cultural diversity. New York: Guilford Press. ISBN-10: 1572309954, $60.00

Schults, F. LeRon.  (2003). Reforming Theological Anthropology: After the Philosophical Turn to Relationality.  Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. ISBN-10: 0802848877, $35.00



Midterm exam, reflection paper, and final exam.



Open to all Fuller students.



1.     Meets BPC Sections 4980.36(c)(5); 4980.36(d)(2)(B),(C),(E),(G) for the State of CA.

2.     Meets AAMFT core competency domain 2.1



Written essay exam.


 [1] Note: You have 3 choices for a text book: 1) The 6th, or 7th edition of BergerÕs book. 2) The ebook version of the 7th edition—cheaper! 3) Another approved (by professor) lifespan text such as Laura BerkÕs or John SantrockÕs.